As Gurdip points out “I always think monochromatically because mixing colour doesn’t feel right to me. I like to base the look around vibrant use of saturated colour”. Perhaps another nod to black and white photography where the essence of the picture is in its form and tone.
Joining scenes is then about a series dynamic set pieces, often transitioning between literally hundreds of fixtures to perhaps just a single backlight, all with the purpose of eliciting the response “Wow I wasn’t expecting that”.
Since his early days at MTV, lighting technology and practices have come a long way. A keen proponent of embracing the latest products and techniques in his designs, in recent productions such as The Crystal Maze, Top Gear and Rupaul’s Drag Race, one combination of lighting which has worked particularly well for Gurdip has been his use of traditional tungsten sources in conjunction with LED-based soft sources such as Chroma-Q’s Space Force, within the initial “lighting layer”.
“I love their softness, their ability to change colour, and the quality of light they produce. Used to bring the level up, I often tune them to Daylight (5600K), to provide contrast, and accentuate the warmer Tungsten hues on the faces of the performers, without it looking artificial”.
He goes on, “On a recent Euro Trash special they were used with the soft lantern accessory to light catwalk models. This was a more comfortable environment to work in front of, as it’s also about the artist. Additionally, Broadcast engineers love them when lighting for Chromakey, because of their evenness and available power”.
Once the layers of lighting have been built up to eye, the last stage of the process is carried out on the monitor. The image on screen reflects more precisely what the viewer will be seeing and allows any aberrations in colour as a consequence of camera technology, to be dealt with.
The whole process from start to finish is highly collaborative with input from all the lighting team members from Spark to Desk Op. Gurdip embraces this, “making the process collaborative, can give the final production real edge. Once the basic looks are achieved it also allows us to mess about and break the rules. As long as the basics are right you can always go back. You have to have a real passion for lighting, and this brings it out in everybody”.
Constantly looking to evolve and engage new ideas, Gurdip gains inspiration from a multitude of sources, particularly from viewing modern art and watching black and white movies.
In the case of the later, “What I admire about older black and white films are their simplicity. They’re stripped back using much simpler levels of technology”.
Asked if he had his time, again would there have been any other avenues in lighting he would have perhaps pursed? “I would have loved to have lit films, but I have no regrets. These are happy times”.